Melinda Katz scored the endorsement of 1199 SEIU today, adding to her bevy of labor support in the race for Queens borough president.
Ms. Katz’s campaign touted the union’s endorsement–they represent more than 200,000 healthcare workers in the city, many black and Latino–as further evidence that crucial minority voters will back her and not her rival, Councilman Peter Vallone Jr.
After the head of a Queens nonprofit tied to former State Senator Shirley Huntley was arrested today, two council members reportedly under investigation sought to distance themselves from the case.
Neither Mark Weprin nor Leroy Comrie, whom insiders generally regard as above-the-board types, said they had been contacted by investigators, despite a New York Post story reporting that they were being probed.
“I have not been contacted by an investigative agency,” Mr. Comrie told Politicker after reading that he was being investigated by the Attorney General and State Comptroller for allocating money to an allegedly sham nonprofit.
exiting stage right
Councilman Leroy Comrie today announced an end to his bid for Queens borough president, citing “personal matters” as his reason for leaving the race.
“After careful consideration, my family and I believe, due to personal matters, this is the best course of action,” Mr. Comrie said in a statement. “I remain steadfast in my faith and belief in government and it is a true honor to continue to serve the people of Southeast Queens in my capacity as Councilman.”
The Queens Democratic Party is famously unified, as their endorsement tends to come along with most of the county’s elected officials. For former Councilwoman Melinda Katz’s borough president campaign, which was backed by the Democratic organization last month, this has proven to be the case yet again–with a slew of new endorsements announced today.
Current Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez declared their support for the Katz campaign, along with former borough president candidate and State Senator José Peralta, State Senator James Sanders, Assemblywoman Vivian Cook and Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubrey.
State Senator José Peralta will end his campaign for Queens borough president and endorse former Councilwoman Melinda Katz, a source close to the Peralta campaign told Politicker Friday.
“Senator Peralta made an important contribution to the race for borough president as a tireless advocate for immigrant communities and local economic development and job growth,” said Rep. Joe Crowley, the chair of the Queens Democratic Party, in a statement. “Fortunately, he will continue fighting the good fight in the state Senate and wherever else his insight and determination are needed. I look forward to continuing to work with him on legislation and projects to help make our communities stronger.”
Councilman Leroy Comrie, once considered a front-runner in the Queens borough presidents race, is “looking at every option,” he told Politicker this morning when asked if he’s planning to drop his bid.
“I’m not prepared to put that out publicly yet, I’m still working on it,” he said during the Memorial Day Parade in the Laurelton neighborhood of Queens.
When the Queens Democratic Party rolled out its endorsements this morning in Forest Hills, one notable demographic, African Americans, was left without a major candidate. Indeed, Queens’ black political establishment looked on with disappointment as their favored candidates for mayor, borough president and public advocate were passed over for rivals.
Congressman Joe Crowley, the party chair, endorsed Council Speaker Christine Quinn for mayor and former Councilwoman Melinda Katz for borough president. While a vast majority of district leaders voiced their approval, Elmer Blackburne and several other black district leaders dissented, indicating that instead they would support Bill Thompson, the former comptroller, who is also black. Ms. Quinn and Ms. Katz are white.
king of queens
The Queens County Democratic Party is expected to endorse Councilman Leroy Comrie for borough president next week, according to four sources plugged into various sides of the race.
The sources–some of whom were disappointed in the decision–told Politicker that Congressman Joe Crowley, the head of the borough’s Democratic organization, will probably endorse Mr. Comrie to balance his leadership position in one of the most demographically diverse counties in the country.
It is a question few in the New York political establishment dare to ask publicly: is the seemingly endless string of indictments and arrests of elected officials a conspiracy against minorities in power?
But there was Queens State Sen. James Sanders Jr., bellowing in a theater with a preacher’s rhythm, more than implying last night that the recent arrests of black elected officials like Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, State Sen. Malcolm Smith and State Sen. John Sampson were not coincidental. Even State Sen. Shirley Huntley, who admitted to stealing funds earmarked for her district’s underprivileged children and was sentenced Thursday for her crimes, could have been linked to a conspiracy, Mr. Sanders said.
Ironically, Mr. Sanders defeated Ms. Huntley last year–after she was indicted–and took her seat in the State Senate.
Joining the Fray
Manny Caughman, a staffer for Queens Assemblyman William Scarborough, told Politicker he’s ‘99 percent’ certain he’ll launch a bid for term-limited Councilman Leroy Comrie’s seat. And, thanks to his civic work and ties to the influential Guy R. Brewer Democratic Club in southeastern Queens, Mr. Caughman could mount a serious challenge to labor leader Daneek Miller, the race’s early front-runner.